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Mayors seek solutions for plastic pollution in Mississippi River

“Plastic pollution is a global issue. It is our hope that we can identify local solutions,” said Mississippi State Rep. Abe Hudson.

Mayors from 10 states are pledging to reduce plastic pollution in the Mississippi River some 20% by 2020.

That promise coming as Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative wraps up its annual meeting on Wednesday, September 19.

Local companies like Happy Joe's and Heart of America are taking a deep dive into plastic pollution.

The pizza chain will be seeking new ways to package and serve its products.

"We're looking from our straws to our silverware, to these million little plastic inserts that we put in our pizza boxes," said Marketing Director Kristel Ersan.  "We're reviewing it all."

The Mississippi River is a crucial transportation corridor for moving grain and goods.  But plastic pollution is worsening along its path to the Gulf of Mexico.

Meeting participants like Mississippi State Representative Abe Hudson say that 80% of the plastic pollution traces back to inland sources.

"Plastic pollution is a global issue," he said.  "It is our hope that we can identify local solutions."

More than two dozen mayors from Minnesota to Louisiana are aiming to increase education and awareness at local, state and national levels.

"You can get things done collectively much better, much more efficiently and much quicker than we can acting alone," said Bettendorf Mayor Bob Gallagher.

Hope that community collaborations can deliver a big message about plastic pollution.

"From soap in our hotel bathrooms to fliers and inserts we put in our restaurants, we are committed to reducing that by 20% in 2020," said Michelle Sparkman, Heart of America.

They're stepping up for a cleaner waterway all along the Mississippi River.